O'Malley and Ayotte Review Debate, Economic Numbers

The first presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season is in the books, and another debate, this one between vice presidential candidates, is coming this week.

Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) joined "Fox News Sunday" to give their take on the state of the race!

"We have three more debates," Governor O'Malley said in reaction to the near consensus that Mitt Romney won the first debate.

But, O'Malley added that Romney has yet to explain how his tax plan maintains its goals without raising taxes or busting the budget.

O'Malley also previewed Thursday's debate by pointing to what many think the Democrats' strategy will be, going after Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) legislative record.

"He has been very clear what he would do (in office)," O'Malley said.

Senator Ayotte said Romney's strong performance was "a reset of this campaign."

The other important headline this week was the positive jobs report, and how that might impact the race.

The unemployment rate went from 8.1% to 7.8% in September, which is the lowest rate since the president took office in January 2009.

"What’s disappointing is that the downtick in the unemployment rate is because of part time jobs," Ayotte argued.

"You can’t support a family on part time work."

While O’Malley conceded that he didn't think "anyone should be satisfied," and that the economy, "still has a long way to go," he pointed out that when the president took office the economy was losing 800,000 jobs in some months.

"It is far better to be gaining jobs than losing 800,00 a month as we were when President Bush left office," O'Malley said.

GOP VP Nominee Ryan Previews the First Debate

Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) previewed the upcoming debates saying that what he and presidential nominee Mitt Romney would do is present American voters with a stark choice in November.

“We owe the country a very clear choice of a different future…We can stick with the failed policies of the four - last years for the next four years – or we can get a brighter future.”

Ryan dismissed recent polls which show the Republican ticket running behind in some key battleground states.

“This is going to be a close race. We're running against an incumbent president with incredible resources,” Ryan said.

He also responded to talk that a decisive victory in Wednesday’s debate was critical to altering the trajectory of the race going into these final five weeks.

“I don't think one event is going to make or break this campaign. President Obama is a very -- he's a very gifted speaker… I think what people are going to see who is Mitt Romney, what kind of a president he is going to be and what are the choices I have.”

One area the Republican ticket is trying to paint a clear contrast is in foreign policy, which has forced its way onto center stage in recent weeks.

“Their response was slow, it was confused, it was inconsistent,” Ryan said of the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including US Ambassador Chris Stevens.

“We're seeing the ugly fruits of the Obama foreign policy unravel around the world on our TV screens. Syria, you've got 20,000 dead people. Iran is closer toward a nuclear weapon. The Middle East peace process is in shambles and we have our flags being burned all around the world. Russia is thwarting us at every stage in the process. This is a weak foreign policy with terrible results which makes us less safe,” Ryan said.

On Iran, Ryan said the difference between Mitt Romney’s position and the president’s policy in keeping nuclear weapons out of the Ayatollah’s hands is credibility.

“The president's Iran policy lacks credibility. What I mean when I say that is, the Ayatollahs in Iran, they have to make a decision to stop pursuing a nuclear weapon and pursue a peaceful resolution, but they're not doing that. And I would argue that they're not doing that because the president doesn't have credibility.”

While foreign policy has dominated headlines in recent days, the number one concern on voters’ minds continues to be the economy.

Unemployment is 8.1 percent. No president has won reelection with unemployment that high since FDR in 1940. GDP growth in the second quarter was 1.3 percent. No president has won reelection with GDP growth that low since they started measuring growth in 1930.

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace asked how the Republican ticket could be losing according to polls given these dire statistics.

“Given that, we're going to win this race,” Ryan responded.

Ryan said of handwringers in the GOP, who say Romney made a bold move in picking Ryan as his running mate but has since returned to playing safe, they should join the ticket on the campaign trail.

“Attend our town hall meetings. Look at how we're walking people through how we fix Medicare, how we fix Social Security, how we create jobs, how we reform the tax code, how we have an energy policy, an education policy, a trade policy.”

Ryan contended that Romney has put forward more detailed solutions to the nation’s problems than the president has and the clear contrast they present versus the president’s record these past four years will result in victory for Team Romney on election day.

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Foreign Policy Takes Center Stage

“No one wants to get to the bottom of this more than the president and secretary of state,” Obama senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said of the shifting messages coming out of the administration regarding the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

Gibbs was insistent that the administration has only presented the facts as they have been known to them as the investigation has progressed.

“Absolutely no one intentionally or unintentionally misled (in this investigation)," the former White House press secretary said.

Gibbs also defended the president’s record in confronting Iran over the development of its nuclear program.

Gibbs cited comments by Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak in arguing that the economic sanctions on Iran is “complicating their efforts to build a nuclear weapon.”

Against all these international events, the UN General Assembly will convene in New York City this week.

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace asked Gibbs why the president does not have any private meetings with foreign leaders on his agenda, but he does have a taping on “The View” scheduled for Tuesday.

“The president is going to be actively involved with UN leaders,” Gibbs said, adding, “The president is actively involved in most dangerous parts of the world every day.”

Rice and Rogers Discuss Middle East Unrest

US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the administration "absolutely" believes that the riots across the Middle East are the reaction to a 14 minute movie trailer denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

Rice added, as various members of the administration have over that past several days, that there is no justification for the violence.

Critics of the president's foreign policy charge that the Obama White House has disengaged from the Middle East, and the result is emboldened extremist groups.

"That’s just false," Rice said.

While she acknowledged that Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi’s initial reaction wasn’t “sufficiently robust,” the ambassador said that his cooperation since President Obama's phone call to him is, “evidence of our influence.”

Ambassador Rice said that while we will not know for certain the details of the attack until the FBI's investigation is complete, the best information they have today is that the attack on Benghazi was not a "preplanned, premeditated attack."

It was a spontaneous reaction to what had happened in Cairo.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said for him, it was "too early" to come to the conclusion that the attack in Libya was spontaneous and not preplanned.

Rogers, a former FBI special agent, said one thing he learned in training is that "There are coincidences, but they are not likely."

Citing the sophistication and timing of the attack, Rogers said he does not think one can come to the conclusions the administration seems to have come to so soon.

Rogers was not ready to rule out an al Qaeda influence in the attack either. "It just has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda style attack," the intelligence chairman said.

“(They have) a strong interest to attack western targets,” Rogers said, pointing to the development of extremists groups alinged with al Qaeda in Northern Africa.

Economic Advisers Debate Jobs Numbers

New unemployment numbers out Friday indicate that the economy is still struggling to add jobs. How that might impact the presidential race was the topic of conversation between former Obama White House economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and Romney campaign economic adviser Glenn Hubbard.

"More than a million more people are unemployed than the day the president took office," Hubbard said, adding, "There are some structural headwinds to be sure, but largely, this is a story about growth. We have very anemic growth in the U.S. economy. We could do better with much better policy."Goolsbee argued that progress, while slow, is being made. "If you look at it over the last year, the unemployment rate is down a full percentage point and most of that is from people getting new jobs," he said.

Goolsbee agreed that the " root of the problem is modest growth in US," but he pointed out that US growth has been faster than other struggling world economies.Both presidential candidates have presented plans for re-energizing the economy, but both have their critics.

Mitt Romney's plan focuses on tax cuts for all income brackets, deep spending cuts, and tax reform.Hubbard defended the former governor's plan to cut taxes for upper income brackets: "I'm just not aware of any argument that would suggest getting back to the growth we'd just talked about in the previous question is facilitated by raising taxes, not tax reform."Goolsbee argued that going back to the rates from the ‘90s will not have any adverse impact on economy; he counters that President Obama’s plan looks to go back to the rates under President Bill Clinton.

Mitt Romney Previews His Big Week

“I'd like people to stand back and say, what are the big issues that America faces and what are the answers that I have and that Paul Ryan has for the issues that we face,” former governor Mitt Romney, the soon-to-be Republican nominee for president, said was what he hopes voters walk away with after this week’s convention in Tampa.

Romney added he hopes people will gather from his acceptance speech Thursday that he believes this “nation is unique and exceptional and that we have everything we need to continue to lead the world in prosperity and in peace.”

Earlier this week, Republican Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO), who is running for the US Senate seat in Missouri, made controversial remarks about rape victims in the context of abortion policy, which were seized on by Democrats who have tried to paint Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as anti-women.

Romney defended his record, and pointed to the universal health care law implemented in Massachusetts while he was governor.

“I'm the guy that was able to get health care for all of the women and men in my state. They're just talking about it at the federal level… I'm very proud of what we did.”

In particular, regarding abortion, Romney said, “There are two lives at stake, the child, the unborn child and the mom. And I care for both of them.”

Romney has accused the president of running an “angry” and “desperate” campaign.

“When the president accuses me of -- of being a felon or when his staff does and he doesn't distance from -- from that. When they have a -- a PAC which -- which says that I'm responsible for someone's death and he won't distance himself from that….I would suggest that that's a campaign of -- of anger and divisiveness. I think his whole campaign he's been about dividing the American people,” Romney said.

It’s already been an expensive campaign on both sides, combined over a half billion has been spent by the candidates alone.

Romney said he would like to see a return to abiding by the federal spending limits.

“I would far rather have a setting where we had both agreed to the federal spending limits. Look, what -- what he's done has meant that both of us have to spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising. We can't spend as much time on the campaign trail. And -- and, frankly, of money having influence in politics.”

The Democrats have been relentless in their demands that Romney release more than the two years of tax returns he has said he is willing to release.

Romney addressed the suspicion surrounding his foreign investments.

“There was no reduction, not one dollar of reduction in taxes, by virtue of having an account in Switzerland or a Cayman Islands investment. Those dollars of taxes remained exactly the same. There was no tax savings at all,” Romney said, adding that these investments are handled in a blind trust.

This week Romney will accept the nomination of his party for president, a goal his father, former Michigan governor George Romney tried to meet and fell short of.

Asked what his father would say to him on this occasion, the younger Romney said, “He gave some advice to the new governor of Michigan, John Engler, years ago. And I've heard him give it to many people, which is be bold. Don't worry about what people think, just be bold, get the job done. That's the advice he'd give me.”


DNC Chair Says There is Some Truth to Controversial Super PAC Ad

The Romney campaign has been speaking out about a controversial Priorities USA ad that implies Romney may have been responsible for a woman’s death after her husband lost his job and benefits. But Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), head of the Democratic National Committee, says there may be some truth to parts of it.

“There’s no question that the ad raises facts such as that Mitt Romney, when he was CEO of Bain Capital, bankrupted companies, laid off workers, cut their benefits and made millions of dollars in profit,” said Wasserman Schultz.

“That ad points out that there are consequences to making decisions like that that impacted people’s lives in a significant way,” she added.

When pushed about the ad being from a Democratic group whose senior strategist is a former Obama staffer, she said, “I have no idea the political affiliation of folks who are associated with that Super PAC.”

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz also talked about Governor Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick , Paul Ryan. She says that Ryan’s budget plan is an "extremist proposal."

Tea Party Favorite Cruz Discusses TX Win

Senate candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) had what many are calling a surprise victory in last week’s Republican primary against Lt. Governor David Dewhurst.

During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Cruz said he believes the win was a “victory for grassroots conservatives all over the state.”

Cruz believes those grassroots conservatives will also back Mitt Romney in November. “I have yet to meet a single tea party leader that isn’t going to vote for Mitt Romney and work hard for him because our country is in crisis,” said Cruz.

He also added that when it comes to Romney’s vice presidential pick, “ both Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan would be terrific choices.”

Axelrod Talks Romney's Possible Vice Presidential Pick

The Obama campaign’s senior strategist joined “Fox News Sunday” in an exclusive interview to discuss the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney’s possible Vice Presidential running mate, and the Senate majority leader’s accusation that Romney hasn’t paid taxes in 10 years.

One of the big questions hanging over the presidential race is who Mitt Romney will choose to be his running mate. When asked who he thinks will be the pick, Axelrod said, “I suspect is that he’ll double down on his economic philosophy… he’s going to pick one of these Back to the Future candidates.”

On the other topic of the day, Mitt Romney’s decision to only release 2 years of tax returns has become one of the Obama Campaign’s favorite lines of attack. This week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said an unnamed source told him that Romney hadn’t paid taxes in 10 years.

When asked about this latest dustup, Axelrod claimed, “I don’t know who Harry was talking to.” He then added, "The point here, though, Chris, is the Romney campaign and Gov. Romney can resolve this in 10 seconds – they can release the tax returns."

Scalia Weighs in on Health Care Decision & Gun Rights

“The criterion for deciding what the meaning today ought to be is what was the understood meaning, as applied to criteria at the time,” is how Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia summed up his approach to judging the constitutionality of laws that come before the Court.

Scalia joined “Fox News Sunday” to promote his new book, "Reading the Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts," which explains this approach, often referred to as textualism or originalism.

“Textualism means you're -- you're governed by the text. That's the only thing that is relevant to your decision, not whether the outcome is desirable, not whether legislative history says this or that, but the text of the statute. Originalism says that when you consult the text, you give it the meaning it had when it was adopted, not -- not some later, modern meaning,” Scalia explained.

One of the 57 canons, or rules of thumb for judging, Scalia writes about in his book says, “A statute should be interpreted in a way that avoids placing its constitutionality in doubt.”

This seemed to be the reasoning Chief Justice John Roberts employed when he found the Affordable Health Care Act constitutional under the Congress’s power to tax.

Scalia, who wrote in dissent, said he does not think the chief justice got it right.

“If you read the rest of the section, you would say to find a way, to find a meaning that the language will bear, that will uphold the constitutionality. You -- you don't interpret a penalty to be a pig. It can't be a pig.”

And that was exactly the crux of Scalia’s disagreement with the majority. He argued that it is clear Congress did not intend the individual mandate to include a tax on those who refused to purchase health care, but a penalty and the court has no authority, in Scalia’s words, to “rewrite” the statute.

Another issue that has resurfaced with the mass shooting in Colorado is gun control.

In 2008, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in DC v. Heller that said the handgun ban in the nation’s capitol was unconstitutional.

However, as the majority said in Heller, Scalia believes the second amendment is not an unlimited right. Just what the court would find unconstitutional, as it pertains to types of weapons especially, Scalia issued a “we will have to wait and see” answer.

“For example, there was a tort called afrighting, which, if you carried around a really horrible weapon just to scare people, like a -- a head ax or something -that was, I believe, a misdemeanor. So, yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed. What they are will depend on what the -- what the society understood were reasonable limitations at the time,” the justice explained.

Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, nearly a decade before Scalia joined the highest court, but he has had the opportunity to make his views known on the precedence established by the case.

“It is, in my mind, the clearest example of being a non-textualist and a non-originalist. Nobody ever thought that the American people ever voted to prohibit limitations on abortion. I mean there's nothing in ‘The Constitution’ that says that,” Scalia said.

Scalia added, “There's no right to privacy in ‘The Constitution,’ no generalized right to privacy….(the "Griswold" case) was wrong.”

Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the current court, said he hasn’t decided when to retire.

“I would not like to be replaced by someone who immediately sets about undoing everything that I've tried to do for 25 years, 26 years. Sure. But I mean I shouldn't have to tell you that.”



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